Both have values that have been overinflated by society.

Oh, I jest. Well, a little. I’m not saying graduate degrees aren’t valuable; they are often quite useful, depending on the career field. But what I see all too often are folks heading back to school without a solid reason for attaining more education.

For those considering graduate school, my advice is to think critically about why you want an advanced degree. Hint: “Because my dad got one.” and “Since the economy is bad, I think I’ll go back to school.” are not good answers.

Ask executives and hiring managers about advanced degrees for your career path. Find out if they are necessary and how having one might help (or hinder!) your career options. Finally, do some homework on whether advanced degrees actually pay off.

Now’s a good time for me to come clean and admit I have a graduate degree that serves arguably no purpose other than allowing me to cheer for one more college team during March Madness. So, much of this is advice I wish I had heard a few years ago.

Next month I’ll tackle the issue of graduate degrees and how they play into determining salaries.